Who REALLY killed the ‘puter?

August 24, 2009

Computer Hell

Some times troubleshooting a computer (motherboard)  is just a bitch.

Usually I have all the patience in the world when it comes to repairing pc’s and dealing with their owners. Not this weekend though.   No, this one was starting to damage my calm.    Before painting circles on the shiny HP case  (for target practice of course), I discussed the issue with my  cohorts over at Tech Republic, and with so may great tips put down in one place, I figured I might as well share.

Here is a loose transcription for:

The HP MOBO… how can you be SURE it’s really the problem?

Not certain if it is the mobo, psu, or video card. I’m working on a HP a6303w with an Asus IPIBL-LB mobo (with no led indicator) and a 300 watt psu. Sometimes within 10 seconds of start up, it will shut itself down momentarily then power back up and stay on.  I get NO beeps, even with EVERYTHING disconnected. The fans come on, and all devices have power, but nothing responds. The monitor will say no signal and go to sleep and won’t wake up. the keyboard may or may not flash but never powers on up. The dvd drive will open and close but never sounds like it’s spinning/reading.

I have swapped memory, cleared cmos, replaced the battery, and reset the psu. I tried contacting both HP and ASUS, but frankly, they were useless.

1. Not much you can do here other

OH Smeg – 08/20/09 Than replace the PS. These things use at least 3 different Voltage Rails and if one is down while the unit may seem to work it’s not either getting enough or any power to at least one of those circuits.

By the sounds of your description it sounds as if either the 5 V DC or 1.3 V DC rails are either not producing any Voltage or are way down on current. Replacing the PS may get it working again but it is just as likely that the Faulty PS has taken the M’Board along for the ride and if this has a AMD CPU I would expect that as well to be no longer working.

It’s just that the AMD Chip Sets don’t seem to isolate the CPU’s as well as Intel Chip Sets do from nasty things happening.

Col

1.1. 3 strikes, and I’m still out…

twilazoned – 08/21/09 Thanks for the fast response!

I had just returned to find your response after replacing the ps with two diff ones, but each had the same result. When I press the power button, everything comes on strong, lasts a few seconds, powers down like it’s dead for about 3 seconds, then boots back up and stays running. Still, none of the devices actually WORK, they just have power.

I did notice that the heat sink was totally gunked up. I cleaned it, the cpu (Intel, btw), and reapplied some fresh thermal grease. Wondering if it got overheated after seeing how thick as the gunk was.

Also noticed that the hdd led doesn’t flicker at all after the second power up. It just stays solid.

I just want to make sure it IS the mobo before I shell out that kind of money.

1.1.1. I was going to say, clean the processor, but you beat me to it..

Peconet Tietokoneet – 08/21/09 The first port of call to me would be the processor, but you have cleaned that. By the way did you apply a very,very small amount of thermal paste to the processor? With that done the second would be the power supply unit.
Another thing you can try out.. IS the computer in question Overclocked? Have a look in the BIOS and then select “Default settings”, then “save and exit”.
If that does not work then a new motherboard will be the next choice.

1.1.1.1. Overclocked??

twilazoned – 08/21/09 Oh yes, I reapplied the grease, but unless there is a way to find out without reading a monitor, I have no idea if it’s overclocked. When it starts up, the monitor says no signal, going to sleep. (and yes, i put in a new video card to tbs)

1.1.1.1.1. Depending on the M’Board here

OH Smeg – 08/21/09You can look at the Jumpers on it or Clear the BIOS to remove any Overclocking that may have been present. Though if the M’Board CPU has suffered because of Overclocking it will not undo any of the damage.

Col

1.1.2. A thought….

—TK— – 08/21/09 I would look all over the Mobo for a blown compositor… If you find a “popped cap” that could and would cause this issue. They are the little cylinder looking things with a “x” on top. They should be level, not bumped up, or worse case leaking acid.

you can google “Popped cap” (Images) and find what they can look like if you have never seen it before.

Added: I should have read Jacky Howe’s post before posting…

1.1.2.1. Popped caps?

twilazoned – 08/21/09 Had never heard that term before! Actually, I did go back and take a detailed look at them after you and Jack’s suggestion, however, they all look fine.

1.1.3. MOBO problems

dpalsen – 08/21/09 Easiest way to tell if it’s the PSU is to look at the BIOS and check if your CPU is overheated, as in most modern BIOSes, it will tell you. If it isn’t POSTing, are there any beep codes, or is there any way to look at the MOBO and find a troubleshooting light or some such.

As for it powering back on with the HDD LED not coming on, try unplugging all of the drives, and see if it will at least make it past POST. The other thought is to try a video card, but I’m REALLY skeptical that that would be the problem. I’m really leaning motherboard on this one.

1.1.3.1. No bells or whistles…

twilazoned – 08/21/09 I am almost traumatized by this HP. I finally realized that I wasn’t hearing any post codes because there was no on board speaker installed on her pc! Add to that NO led on the mobo, and the realization that it was put out with a cheesy 250 w ps, and I find I have never been so disappointed in an HP product.

Asus doesn’t even have support for the mb (because it’s OEM) and the 1st Asus sepport guy stopped me cold and said “oh I can’t tell you a thing about it. I don’t have any manuals, specs, information, nothing”.  I said, “but you made it” and he says “yeah but really, HP just called and said hey we need you to make us some mobo’s, and we just cranked them up and shipped them out”.  So don’t expect any kind of support from Asus if it’s an OEM board.  The second 2nd Asus support guy (who was really cool btw) helped me out anyhow and said the only things left would be that’s it’s either grounding out or fried.

About to pull that puppy out and see if it’ll bark on a sheet of cardboard…

1.1.3.1.1. New motherboard

bwilmot@… – 08/22/09 If it is one of the older AMD sockets (939) you may find a decent price at ascendtech.

I just replaced one this last weekend (HP AMBERINEM-GL6E S.939 2000FSB MBOARD, 5188-2526) 75.99 If it is the same style, be aware that the MB next to it (same page, bottom left and right) is the same but with composite out. (if not still a good source for other boards).

http://www.ascendtech.us/index.asp?FSCat=302&url=IND&iFromFeatured=1

Edited to add; You can find cheaper 939 boards, but this saved me hours by not needing to do a repair, updates, ect.

2. Also

Jacky Howe – 08/21/09 Check the Capacitors around the CPU for swelling or bulging. They should have a flat head with a cross indent.

2.1. If the Capacitors are OK

Jacky Howe – 08/21/09 and it’s starting and running I wouldn’t suspect the CPU. They normally work or they don’t.

Carefully remove everything from the Motherboard. Remove the Motherboard and put it on an anti-static mat on a bench. Remove the Power Supply if it is a known working good one to test with. Remove the Heatsink and give it a good clean. Remove the CPU and reseat it. Reinstall the Heatsink remembering to use CPU grease. Clean the golden edge of each memory stick and the video card with a soft rubber/eraser, remembering not to touch the golden edge. Reseat the RAM and test with one stick at a time. Connect the Video Card. Connect the Power supply to the Motherboard. You can use a flat blade Screwdriver to short the Power pins on the Motherboard if you haven’t got a spare switch. Connect the Monitor and turn it on and see what happens. If it stars up add one Device at a time to test it. If it doesn’t then the Motherboard has failed.

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